'He can set the World Cup on fire': Gambhir picks Babar over Kohli

The former Indian batter believes that the Pakistani skipper has a unique quality

By Web Desk
September 23, 2023
Gautam Gambhir (L) said that Babar Azam has a different level of quality. — Screengrab/AFP

It is impossible not to mention Babar Azam when talking about the best players in the world as the 28-year-old has been ranked the number one One Day International (ODI) batter for about 900 days now.

After making his debut against Zimbabwe in 2015 in Lahore, Babar changed the fortunes of the Pakistan cricket team which was once recognised for their batting failures but has now turned into a match-winning outfit.

Calling Azam the key to Pakistan's success in the recent past would not be wrong on any level as he not only led this side to number one rank in ODIs but also performed consistently with the bat — with many records broken.

Gautam Gambhir, one of India’s heroes of the World Cup 2011, believes that Azam can set the World Cup on fire as he has qualities of a “different level”.

The former left-handed batter was asked to pick one player out of today’s modern greats like David Warner, Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson, Steve Smith, Babar Azam, Joe Root and Rohit Sharma — whom he will have eyes on during the World Cup, he replied with Babar Azam.

“I think Babar Azam possesses all kinds of qualities that he can set this World Cup on fire,” Gambhir said.

“I have not seen many players who have so much time to play. Yes, I believe that we have greats like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson and Joe Root, but Babar Azam has a different level of quality,” he added.

It must be noted that the Men in Green will kick off their World Cup campaign on October 6 by taking on the Netherlands in Hyderabad.

Pakistan will take on India in the most-anticipated match of the World Cup on October 14 at the Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmadabad in front of 132,000 spectators.

Pakistan squad for ICC World Cup 2023

Babar Azam (c), Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Haris Rauf, M Wasim Jnr, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Saud Shakeel, Salman Ali Agha.

Travelling reserves: Mohammad Haris, Abrar Ahmed, Zaman Khan

Schedule of Pakistan's warm-up matches:

September 29 — vs New Zealand in Hyderabad

October 3 — vs Australia in Hyderabad

Here is Pakistan's schedule for the ICC World Cup 2023:

October 6 — vs Netherlands in Hyderabad

October 10 — vs Sri Lanka in Hyderabad

October 14 — vs India in Ahmedabad

October 20 — vs Australia in Bengaluru

October 23 — vs Afghanistan in Chennai

October 27 — vs South Africa in Chennai

October 31 — vs Bangladesh in Kolkata

November 4 — vs New Zealand Bengaluru (Day match)

November 11 — vs England in Kolkata

The day matches which will start at 10:00am Pakistan Standard Time (PST) while all other matches will be day-night fixtures starting at 01:30pm (PST).